What do I do if I have forgotten the soda ash dye fixer? Can I put it on after?

Name: Olivia


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Jacquard Soda Ash Dye Fixer

Jacquard soda ash dye fixer 1 lb.
Soda ash is a mild alkali that promotes the chemical reaction between fiber reactive dye and cellulose fiber. Soda ash is also known as sodium carbonate, washing soda, or sal soda.


Country or region: Victoria

Message: What do I do if I have forgotten to put the soda ash dye fixer on my clothes before I dyed my clothes? Can I put it on after? Thanks

Yes, if you forget to use soda ash before fiber reactive dyes, you can apply soda ash afterwards. The colors may run together, but that's probably better than having them wash out, which is sure to happen if you don't use either soda ash or one of its substitutes.

(Of course, this does nothing useful for other types of dye, such as all-purpose dye. Do not use soda ash with Rit dye.)

Alternatively, you can give up on this round of dyeing, skip the soda ash, wash out most of the dye now with hot water, leaving only a pastel dye stain, and then start over with the dyeing.

If you dip the dyed clothes into a bucket of soda ash solution (a popular recipe calls for one cup of soda ash per gallon of water, or 250 ml per four liters), then the colors will run together somewhat before they are all fixed. Whether this is a problem or not depends on your color choices and whether you made a multicolored design. This method works fine for solid colors, and usually for low water immersion dyeing as well.

For tie-dyed or dye-painted clothing whose designs you want to keep, you can spread them out flat, and spray them with the same soda ash solution. Watch out for running color between layers of fabric, as for example if you did the back of the fabric differently than the front (maybe place a plastic-wrapped piece of cardboard between the layers in that case). It's best to apply the soda ash before untying the fabric at all, if you were tie-dyeing.

To reduce the amount that the color runs when dipping unfixed dyed clothing in a bucket of soda ash mixture, dissolve a lot of ordinary table salt in the soda ash mixture, as much salt as you can dissolve in it, with even a little salt remain undissolved at the bottom, before applying it to the clothes. Salt reduces the solubility of dyes, so it reduces the amount of unwanted color transfer, though it will not eliminate it.

If you dyed only one or two pieces, and you are very concerned about having the colors run together, an alternative is to use sodium silicate instead of soda ash. Sodium silicate is a liquid that you paint on after you apply the fiber reactive dye, as a substitute for the soda ash; its most common use is for fixing hand painted dyes. See my page, "Sodium silicate as a fixative for dyeing".

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Posted: Thursday - December 13, 2012 at 09:17 AM          

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